HOF067: Bun Na UN (father) / Dany UN (son)

Bun Na Un was born in a rural region of Cambodia . His large family raised cattle and cultivated rice fields. He attended school and completed grade 10 after which he practiced monk-hood for a short period. At age 14, he left his family and moved to Phnom Penh where he lived with his older sister.   

Bun Na described with emotion the brutality and harshness of the Khmer Rouge regime during  the 1970s. The soldiers forced their countrymen and women to work long hours digging ditches and cultivating rice fields. Their captors rationed their meals, providing small portions of porridge maybe once or twice a day. Many Cambodians died of starvation or were murdered by soldiers when they were apprehended for stealing food or attempting to escape.

At age 20, Bun Na was depressed and determined to escape from his captors. He and six comrades managed to flee. During three weeks, they walked toward the Thai border encountering fields filled with the bodies of dead or dying Cambodian children and their families. By the time they reached the Thai border, four of them had been killed by the Khmer Rouge. He and his friend managed to reach Thailand. Once across the border, they were imprisoned. Later, they were sent to a nearby refugee camp where Bun Na reunited with family members.

Bun Na, his wife and her nephew arrived in Canada where they were sponsored in Sherbrooke, Québec. They lived there for one year, and then he and his family moved to Montréal where he was able to find employment as a furniture maker during a career of 34 years.

Bun Na’s son Dany wanted to learn about his family’s heritage and visited Cambodia in 2015. During his stay, he travelled in the country and made efforts to learn about the refugee crisis more than forty years ago.